Rum connoisseur interview of the week:
ANDY KILOH, aka RUMBRO
A ‘Bon-Vivant’, lover of rum and the ‘Rum Ambassador for South Africa’.
1) Who is Andy Kiloh, aka RumBro?
I am a bon vivant, lover of life, who has always enjoyed family and friends and how alcohol can bring people and friends together. As with most South African men, I started with Beer. As I grew up it developed into Wine and yes I did follow the usual pathway that many, if not most of us have done, namely sweetish white Wines gradually moving into drier white Wines, before being able to really enjoy a good red Wine.
Gout moved me out of the Wine environment and into the Whisky one, which became a passion for many years, culminating in spending time at Bruichladdich Distillery, on the island of Islay Scotland and learning to make whisky – very particularly Single Malt Whiskies. It was a revelation being able to spend quality and very particularly face to face time with an icon of the Whisky industry, Jim McEwan at Bruichladdich. His incredible knowledge, enthusiasm, and love of Whisky are inspiring and I must thank him for teaching us how to properly TASTE Whisky as opposed to DRINKING Whisky.
I’ve spent many weekends and weeks across numerous years, doing Wine Shows, Wine, and Whisky Tastings and have passionately engaged with people in developing their tastes for the “good things in life”. One of my ambitions has always been to develop a brand specific to our market. Kiloh’s Single Malt Whisky is a reality with a 12-year-old Single Barrel Single Malt about to be launched. South Africa has lived through the Premiumisation of Whisky, Vodka, and Gin and we are about to bring the Premiumisation of Rum to Africa.
Miami Rum Renaissance Festival opened my eyes and brought home the fact that we are deprived in South Africa of really good Rum and a “sipping” culture when it comes to really great Rums and of access to really good Rum in general.
2) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?
I have always been a lover of fine Whiskies and am a Single Malt Ambassador from the Bruichladdich Academy on Islay. Just over a year ago, we joined my daughter at a New Year’s party with some of her friends. As is my want – I took a bottle of Single Malt Whisky along for the Hogmanay Toast at midnight. This is the usual thing that happens at a summer party in South Africa, we had a few too many Beers and eventually, our host decided that we were going to taste from some of the collection of Rums that he had bought over the last few years. My memories of Rum were – just like many of us – about plenty of cheap spirits, some coke and ice and get as drunk as you could, before waking the next day with a hangover of note. In for a penny – in for a pound – let’s do it. Out came a few glasses, Rum poured in, ice added and topped up with coke – again! After the 3rd one, I was informed that the host had actually paid over a hundred pounds (GBP) for that particular bottle! Wow! There must be something to this stuff, so I took out the Single Malt Whisky and proceeded to teach the guys how to taste Whisky. They were suitably impressed and then decided that we should apply the same tasting technique to the Rums. That was it!!! We suddenly realized the value of the Rum we were tasting and what fine spirits they were.
About a month later, Frank and I were talking about Rum, Rum opportunities and what a new company might look like. During the researching of the industry, we came across the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. We decided that I was going to go to the show, meet the industry and see if anyone was interested in sending their product into the African Market. We decided that the worst that could happen, was that I was going to have a great holiday in Miami and the best that could happen, was that Rum producers would be interested and that we would be able to develop a great Rum Distributor.
3) The biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplished for the rum industry.
Building RumBro into his own persona. Through this, I have become the self-appointed Rum Ambassador for South Africa, for our Craft distillers and our Cocktail Bar staff who help to make everyone’s life just a little better every day.
4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry?
Everything that is mentioned in this little story, brings new exciting ventures.
5) Favorite Drink + Recipe
Most great Rum cocktails that are properly prepared. My own Dark ‘n Stormy is probably the one drink that I go to more than others, but then we have a rather warm climate – and I love Ginger Beer.
6) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?
7) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have helped you.
The passion of the Burr’s at the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival was probably the first to help me get excited. Richard Seale, Luca Gargano, and Bailey Pryor are phenomenal lights in the industry and of course the indomitable Ian Burrell. Just about everyone that I have met in this industry has been fantastic and incredibly passionate about Rum!
8) What 3-5 things do you have on your bucket list for the next 12 month?
A Rum Faire for South Africa and a commitment from the manufacturers to grow the Rum category.
Show the world what South African Rum is about.
Assist our Rum manufacturers in exporting their products to the world at large.
9) Any final thoughts?
We have a sophisticated market as well as a naive market in South Africa. This dichotomy is part of the excitement that will keep us growing and keep Rum growing for many years to come.
10) How can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page?
We have a web page which is a little static at the moment but is undergoing a revamp and should soon be wowing everyone who visits us at www.rumbro.co.za
We do also have a Facebook page RumBro, that shows off a lot of the building of a persona for this Rum industry.
I also have my own Facebook page Andy Kiloh and a Linkedin presence andykiloh.